Do you know what really blows? Expectations.
Sure, the expectations of other people can really make you tired. They’re annoying and uncalled for and sometimes, even though they’re from those who love and support you most, just make everything worse. But I’m talking about the expectations we put on ourselves.
I am so mean to me. Me, the one who is stuck with me the most, is the one who probably finds me the most unpalatable. And the reason I’m so displeased with myself is because I’m carrying around this exhausting, infuriating weight of condensed expectations, all to me, from me, sealed with a scathing kiss.
I expect myself to be waif-thin with visible abs despite the fact that I’m perfectly healthy and once bore a small human being. I expect myself to have landed a job by now despite the fact that I have an exhausting full-time one already, though admittedly the pay is garbage. (It’s nothing. The pay is nothing, except sometimes Lucy gives me sticky kisses and says ‘thanks, lady’ when I give her an extra gummy.) I expect myself to be charming even though I’m constantly tired, social even though I just want solitude, involved even though I have limited opportunities to give back.
Now let’s compare my expectations of myself to those I have of Jessica, just for fun!
I expect Jessica to be healthy and happy. That’s literally it. I don’t even really expect her to answer my phone calls these days since I’ve racked up so much bad karma by missing most of hers, though she does usually answer and for that I love her eternally. I expect that she’ll call me when she needs me, put herself first, and take time for herself when life is overpowering. I love her as she is, because she is genuinely one of the most spectacular people I’ve met, and she’s so endearingly herself that I don’t want an inch of her to change. Not even that weird mole on her left boob.
I spent those last sentences jerking Jessica’s ego off just to showcase how starkly different my expectations are for the two of us, because why am I so mean to me?!
We all do it, especially women. Sure, a lot of it is due to outside influences; I doubt I’d be anything but proud of my hourglass figure if I didn’t have this idea in my head that cellulite is a horrifying, emetic scourge that must be destroyed for me to have any hope of being considered attractive.
But even more of it is from the impossible standards we impose upon ourselves, standards that are bolstered by obsessive comparisons to our friends, to our peers on social media, to strangers we don’t even know who are in our age bracket and doing so much better. Because failure is scary, and no one wants to be considered a failure. Especially not if you’ve put so much work into your life, only to see it stagnate or plateau due to factors beyond your control.
I wish this was the paragraph where I told you how to combat it. I wish I had some magical answer that wasn’t just ‘drink it away’, because that’s
really fun irresponsible and won’t solve anything. What I can tell you is that when I start to get bogged down in the gray, drowning sense of failure that is my expectations overcoming me, it always helps to remember that they’re in my control.
I don’t have to feel like a failure just because I’m not yet living in a major city, pumping out copy and wearing power heels in my eternal bid to make myselftaller. I do have to take off the heavy weight of expectation for just a moment to give my shoulders a break, maybe put my feet up, have a high-calorie food and commend myself on what I’ve accomplished so far.
Because no matter who you are, you’re your toughest critic.
You’re doing a good job. You’re trying, and it counts. People notice. They might not tell you, but they notice. And I just want you to take this moment to be aware of your personal expectations, to free yourself temporarily of them and commend yourself instead on all of the things you did accomplish rather than those you have yet to achieve.
Love yourself, or goddammit, I’ll do it for you. That’s a threat.